Crafty Book Review: Side by Side, by Tsia Carson

giant newspaper snowflakes
giant newspaper snowflakes

Giant newspaper snowflakes: These are just what you’d imagine, and yes, they are pretty awesome. The giant newspaper snowflakes take some prep work, done by me, but after I’d measured and taped and folded, the morning did find me and my kids sitting in a little circle, all cutting on one giant newspaper snowflake. It’s large-format cutting and goes through several sheets of paper, so this isn’t the time to bring out the dull-pointed toddler scissors. We used good scissors, all three of us, and indeed, my eight-year-old lefty, who has a tragic time with scissors, did struggle, but it was great practice and muscle strengthening activity for her.

The best part of the activity, though, is Carson’s instruction to unfold the giant paper snowflake and set it down on the ground to make an instant kid playground. You would think that my kids had never seen paper before, or origami snowflakes! They ran and jumped and played on their creations, using the negative space of the cut-outs in fabulous ways that I’m sure were great for their developing little brains.

My only caution is that the least little breeze set our newspaper snowflake flying, which was pretty frustrating. I try to reserve low-tack spray mount for special occasions, since it’s an aerosol, but it really would have done the trick for keeping our snowflakes soundly on the ground. Anyone have any suggestions for a DIY low-tack spray mount substitute?

The author offers some materials substitutions that are less eco-friendly than newspaper, such as Tyvek or tissue paper, but if you’ve got some in your stash or can score it second-hand, I’d say give it a try.

Side by Side (1 of 3)Birdseed self portraits: Here Carson adds to the ubiquitous kid craft that is the sidewalk chalk self-portrait by also including birdseed and colored sand. Birdseed comes in a wide variety of color combinations, if you stay on the look-out, and based on how much the birds loved our art afterwards, I should probably add this project to my list of DIY bird feeders!

Side by Side (3 of 3)My kiddos were way more interested in embellishing their chalk art with the colored sand than with the birdseed, which made the project less eco-friendly for us (especially since I’m pretty sure that store-bought colored sand isn’t made of sand), but nevertheless, it was a wonderful creative and sensory experience for them, and since it was also an outdoor activity, no clean-up was needed!

Other eco-friendly collaborative projects: Here are some other notable eco-friendly projects discussed in Side by Side:

  • pom-pom garlands (use stash yarn)
  • potato prints
  • leaf embroidery
  • succulent gardens
  • T-shirt pillow cases
  • autumn crown
  • living willow teepee


I received a free copy of this book, because I can’t review something unless my kids have dog-eared all the pages, tried all the projects, and left the book out in a rainstorm at least once!

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Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.

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